Edmonton's Jason De Laronde came out of his corner with a hangman's swagger, and it was only a matter of time before Steve Walker found his neck in the noose.
The slick De Laronde improved to 11-0 at The Palace banquet hall Saturday night, stepping up to light heavyweight to score a fourth-round KO over Walker (23-24-1) of Hannibal, Mo.
Considering it was De Larond's first fight in 15 months, the workmanlike way he punched through the American's defence before delivering the payoff punch was indeed impressive.
With 19 KOs on his ledger, Walker showed some right-hand power early, but by the middle of Round 2 he was clearly in survival mode.
De Laronde was never in trouble, but Walker's slippery movement on the inside made him a difficult target.
To open Round 3, De Laronde attacked with a flurry of hooks to the ribs -- at one point throwing them so fast and wild that he managed to pirouette a complete 360.
Reloading, he hammered Walker's torso almost at will -- a tactic made easier by the latter's penchant for retreating in a straight-up posture.
De Laronde delivered the coup de grace 15 seconds into Round 4, ripping a short, vicious shot to the solar plexus that turned Walker's legs to jelly.
"I was nervous as hell walking to the ring, and worried about going eight hard rounds after such a long layoff," De Laronde said afterwards.
"But when I heard the cheers after my introduction, the butterflies went away and I got a huge boost of confidence. I just wanted to concentrate on putting together my punches the way we've been doing it in the gym.
"The first couple of rounds were rough because he was hard to hit. Then when I started teeing off with those hooks to the body, I could feel them landing.
"The shot that put him away was right up the middle -- short and sweet. It felt great."
Trainer Sterling Craig said the win was as much a testament to De Laronde's confidence as his punching prowess.
"I think he's finally believing in his punching ability," said Craig.
"For some reason, in previous fights Jason was content to pile up points and let the other guy off the hook.
"But we've been working on his power ... that's what you saw tonight. That last punch only travelled about six inches, but it dropped the guy like he'd been shot. That's what we're aiming for."